Monthly Archives: November 2015

Austin= Country?

Here in Austin, country music is alive and well in so many different ways. Staying connected to your country roots and IMG_9052traditions I easily attainable. Whether you want to go out and enjoy live concerts, enjoy a nice meal at an authentic, southern-family style restaurant, or just stay inside your apartment/house and watch an awards ceremony. Austin is known for being weird but isn’t always thought of being country, instead being thought of more “hipster” due to the various celebrities and other events being held in the city.

IMG_2591The first experience I took advantage of was ACL, as I previously noted on one of my past blog posts, and I was able to attend Sturgill Simpson’s performance on Saturday of the first weekend of this music festival, as well as Dwight Yoakam’s performance.

Sturgill Simpson was outstanding and was one of my favorite performances of the weekend (and that’s saying a lot because I am also a huge fan of Drake and The Weeknd). While I didn’t see every second of most of the artists I was very pleased with my first time. It was a great way to see new country artists I wasn’t too familiar with as well as seeing other genres of music. It was so enjoyable it’s impossible to sum it up into such few words, so the video below is a small attempt just for you to get a sense of how great just ONE day was!

The next experience I chose to participate in was eating at an authentic historic site. I ate at the restaurant known as Threadgill’s. My family was in town for the weekend so we were looking for a place to eat right before they headed back to Dallas. I had the chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and the broccoli rice casserole and it was fantastic. The chicken fried steak i was told was the best in Austin so I had to try it and so far it has been the best in Austin!

Chicken-Fried-Steak-AustinThe atmosphere was great, the service was great, and the food was great. The music was enjoyable while at the same time, you could still have a conversation with your family. Next time I go, I want to try their Sunday brunch special. My brother went that route which included an all you can eat breakfast. For the special they had a “salad bar” like station set up with all kinds of fruit and breakfast foods which looked delicious!

The last experience I have enjoyed here in Austin is actually quite simple and most people say “You can do that anywhere though”. While it is true that you can watch the CMA awards anywhere, I enjoyed it more here than in previous years because this was the first time I heard about people getting together and having a “watch party”. While the biggest headline this year was that Justin Timberlake stole the show with Chris Stapleton, what I remember about that night was enjoying with some close friends and enjoying the country artists be recognized for a great year in country music.

When I first moved to Austin, I never thought the country industry would influence my life this much due to the many country events held or viewed here. That has been a pleasant surprise this Fall semester and I only hope that I will be able to continue enjoying more experiences like these!


Filed under Blog Post 5, Reflection, Texas

Country Music Experiences & Reflection

This year I am living in my sorority house, and rooming with one of my good friends, Emma. Emma took this class last spring and she is the reason I decided to take the class, based off of her high recommendation. She loves country music as much as I do and we actually got to go to the iHeart Country Music Festival last May!

BP51It was an unspoken agreement that she and I would be watching the CMAs on November 4th. Of course, as you know, my sisters back home love all things country. The past couple years we have face-timed and texted to share our thoughts about the show and the different moments and performances. I promise we like and respect plenty more country artists than just Luke Bryan, but as I followed the various Twitter feeds during the show, I couldn’t help but send them a couple of my favorite pictures of him that were popping up, such a comical moment between Justin Timberlake helping Luke Bryan fix his tie on the red carpet.

I’ll admit, I didn’t know much about Chris Stapleton besides the fact that he wrote and sang on Luke’s “Drink A Beer”, but after quickly catching up on his biography and songs, it was wonderful to see that someone as talented as he is was being recognized, a sentiment that Luke Bryan later echoed during his Entertainer of the Year acceptance speech. Kenny Chesney is another artist that I really enjoy. His career is consistent and successful, and it is nice to see that he is still very active and performing on these award shows.

LouisNashville is not a show that I would normally watch, but I have recently had a good reason to watch a couple of episodes. My godfather and cousin, Louis Gusemano, is an actor and he landed the role of the detective this past season. Naturally, I watched his episode with some friends when it aired last spring, but I have occasionally kept up with it during the current season.

Overall it is not my favorite show, but the interpretations and depictions of life within the country music industry are fascinating. I recently found an article on Saving Country Music’s website that correlated the various characters with their real-life country star counterparts. I also appreciate that the show depicts aspects of country music that are unique to the genre, such as the overall closeness and openness of the artists as a whole.

Nashville1As I discussed in my Blog Post #4, my sisters and I got to see Luke Bryan on his Kick the Dust Up tour in October. In this post however, I want to focus more on his opening acts, which were so solid and exciting that I truly felt like we got to experience three different concerts during one night.

Randy Houser and Dustin Lynch both have naturally good voices, and seemed genuinely excited to be performing for such a big crowd. They also had longer sets than I anticipated- which was a great development! Their camaraderie with Luke later on during his set (Moscow Mules and George Strait!) raised the bar for any future concerts! Randy Houser’s vocals during “Like A Cowboy” were outstanding. I highly recommend finding a video on YouTube of him performing the song live- you won’t be disappointed!

randyTo understand the current trends and direction of country music, it is important to understand the past, as with any historical movement. In fact, Trisha Yearwood recently told reporters that based on her experience and knowledge of country music; she foresees a somewhat inevitable decline in “bro-country”, and a rise in more traditional “grassroots” and singer-songwriter artists. Chris Stapleton’s rise definitely supports her prediction.

Rhetoric of Country Music and these experiences have expanded my knowledge on the history of country music more so than I thought possible and made me start thinking more analytically about country music and the direction it is headed. I have also been introduced to certain performers from the past or who are up and coming that I might not have ever noticed before.


Filed under Blog Post 5, Reflection

Chris Stapleton Is Killing The Country Music Scene

One of my favorite performances performed at the CMA Awards this year, which almost all would agree, was Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey”. Written by Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove, this song was originally sung by one the most famous country music outlaws, David Allan Coe.

In the early 80s, George Jones also released a version of “Tennessee Whiskey”, reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. His version was made popular from what most considered him to have had a very distinct voice. Compared to Coe, Jones voice is much more soft, conveying a sense of compassion and more personable than Coe.

But my favorite version of “Tennessee Whiskey”, performed by male vocalist of the year and new artist of the year, Chris Stapleton. His blues-ey sound gives this song just what it needs to make its listeners turn this song on full blast while listening to it. The harmonization between Stapleton, Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton’s wife, Morgane Stapleton gives it that blues feeling, not to mention the saxophone and trumpets in the background. This performance is one that will go down in country music history. I should also mention that Justin Timberlake’s, “Drink You Away” was followed by, “Tennessee Whiskey”, which also brought the audience to their feet. It was truly a performance of a lifetime.

Although Stapleton is just starting to gain recognition as a solo artist, Chris Stapleton has actually written many famous songs most of us have heard, “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright” sung by George Strait and “Come Back Song”, sung by Darius Rucker. He has proven himself as a great song writer and now we have seen his capacity as a performer which has catapulted him into the country music world. His album “Traveller, was awarded album of the year at the CMA’s this year, something his listeners should have expected nothing less because of his talents and great singing career.

chris and justinSo many people are claiming that Chris Stapleton is doing one heck of a job in putting country music back in country music and I could not agree more. I am tired of hearing this “rapping country music” on the radio – sorry Sam Hunt. So, Chris Stapleton – we applaud you and thank you for bringing back and incorporating country music’s roots into your songs. I look forward to learning more of your songs and cannot wait for another album.


Filed under Awards, Blog Post 4

Who is John Michael Montgomery?!

Have you ever heard songs like, “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)”, “I Swear”, “Life’s a Dance” or “I Can Love You Like That”? Well John Michael Montgomery is the man who sings these iconic songs. John Michael Montgomery was one of the biggest hits of the 90’s and today many of his songs still play on the radio and are recognized by individuals of all ages. However, he, himself is unrecognizable and unknown by most.

jmmToday John Michael Montgomery is one of my favorite country singers of all time, but not to long ago I was singing his songs without knowing who he even was. As soon as I learned that I would be writing these blogs I knew I had to do one on John Michael Montgomery because he is too good for my generation and even beyond to not continue to listen to and know!

John Michael Montgomery has released eleven albums since his career took of in 1992 when he released his debut album featuring “Life’s A Dance”, and “I Love The Way You Love Me”. He has had thirty singles on the Billboard Charts and seven of which that went number one. He has won multiple awards through the CMA’s and ACM’s. Montgomery was born in 1965 in Danville, Kentucky to a family who instilled his love for music in him early on. By the age of fifteen he was singing regularly with his family which ultimately led to him being seen and then signed by Atlantic Records.

I was drawn to John not only because his career took off in my favorite time period of country, the 90’s, but because his love songs are incredible (I am a sucker for love). It is the between his voice, which focus’ on country’s traditional roots, and his deep emotional connection with his fans, and his piercing looks that all make him stand out from other balladeers of the 90’s.

Like I previously said, many of Montgomery’s songs play frequently on the radio and are even easily recognized lyrically and musically but their titles and who sings them is unknown. I want to point out three of these love songs that you may or may not have heard before, but that you need to listen to and remember the name and artist of, because if you ever have been in, are in, or plan to be in love these songs will make you feel like never before. My top three favorite love songs of his are “I Can Love You Like That,” I Love The Way You Love Me,” and “I Swear.” Each of these breaks down what love should really be about.

“I Can Love You Like That” expresses a man saying he can fulfill all the dreams and hopes a woman can have about love. From a young age women are shown love stories through fairytales, movies, and more for example like the song shares Cinderella or Romeo and Juliet. He shares that he will do and love her in the ways she always wished for but never thought were true.

“I Love The Way You Love Me” reveals that one of the reasons behind his love for her is her love for him. He shares that its the simple things she does like laughing or taking long baths that all make up part of why he likes her. Its the way she puts up with him and does little things like cooking for him that also play a part in it. This song reminds you that true love should be when you love and accept everything about a person.

“I Swear” relates back to the original promise behind love, that it will be meaningful and last forever. This song mentions the oath that’s taken during a marriage ceremony such as “for better or worse,” and “until death do us part.” It promises love that will last as appearances may change and things get hard. He compares this promise to things that are very constant such as the moon and stars and shadows.

Each of these songs are extremely powerful and full of feeling. I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I have. I know as a guy you may not want to admit it that you like love songs, but at least give them a chance or check out some of his other songs. He covers whimsical fun topics, family, and military life as well. John Michael Montgomery is an amazing musician that changed the 90’s and my generation needs to remember!

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Filed under Blog Post 4, Lists, New Country

Giving Thanks: Top 5 Country Songs about Thanksgiving

As we gear into the holiday season, it is important for us to think about our blessings and giving thanks to our friends in family. Most people value the food and parties as the most important part of the holidays, but we should take a step back and focus on what really matters, our friends and family. Now, country music discusses many topics such as drinking, tailgating, heartache, and love but what does it have to say about being thankful, here is a countdown of what I believe to be the top 5 country songs about Thanksgiving.

5. Pat Green, “Lucky” (2004)

Pat Green hopes that we win a million dollars or date a supermodel, but he also gives us the story of a regular guy. He says that the biggest victory in life fall  “beneath this red, white and big blue sky/With your job, your car, your family, your friends/The love of a girl that you know will never end.” That is what we should truly be thankful for and what aspects of life we are lucky to have.

4. Willie Nelson, “I’m Alive” (2008)

Willie Nelson sings, “As for me, I’d like to thank my lucky stars / That I’m alive and well,” He wants us to focus on the most important and little things in life that most people take for granted. Being alive and well is something we should be very thankful for, and this hit by Willie Nelson reminds us of this.

3. Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You” (2011)

At first listen, this song sounds like it is merely a love song, but digging deeper this song is more than a story of a hopeless romantic. The song can be applied to any important person in our life. It is a song to show us that we are never alone. It is ironic that this song, for Shelton, is about his ex-wife Miranda Lambert. I wonder if he now applies this song for new girlfriend and fellow Voice coach, Gwen Stefani. Either way, this song reminds us if what were truly thankful for, friends and family.

2. Travis Tritt, “It’s a Great Day to be Alive” (2000)

“And it’s a great day to be alive / I know the sun’s still shinin’ when I close my eyes / There’s some hard times in the neighborhood / But why can’t everyday be just this good.” The chorus of this song reminds us to be thankful for everyday. Tritt also tells us that even when we are having hard days to take a step back and look at all that we have to be thankful for.

1. Martina McBride, “Blessed” (2000)

This CMA nominated hit by Martina McBride is the #1 song about Thanksgiving because she explains the little things of life we are blessed to have. The chorus states that, “At the end of every day / I have been blessed / With so much more than I deserve / To be here with the ones that love me / To love them so much it hurts / I have been blessed.” This song discusses our blessings in a humble manner and reminds us to thank God for the gifts we have been given that are “so much more than I deserve.” Martina McBride truly encompasses all aspects of Thanksgiving in this beautifully written song.

Before you dive face first in the turkey, think about what you are thankful for. Hopefully this list gets you into the Holiday spirit and makes you realize how blessed we are. Happy Thanksgiving!


Filed under Lists, Reflection, Song Analysis